Meet Mark Cambria. Just your run-of-the-mill guy with an interesting hobby. Even though it’s a bit outdated Mark collects VHS tapes in bulk and watches them. Most of the time it’s just films he’s familiar with. But after watching one unusual tape Mark begins talking in his sleep. Which wouldn’t be too weird if it wasn’t an unknown language. His curiosity into why and how sparks an investigation like no other. With the help of his friends, girlfriend Tamra and several colleagues in the film community, Mark’s search for answers leads him to the legend of the ‘White Tapes’ as well as the once infamous Video Palace.
It may come as a surprise to know that VHS tapes have only been dead for a few years. Back in 2016, The Guardian released an article informing readers that the very last VHS manufacturer in the world would be shutting down. Even long before that, VHS cassettes were considered obsolete thanks to DVDs or online streaming services. So why do some people, like our host Video Palace host Mark, obsessively collect those old bulky tapes? I would imagine for the same reason lots of people collect vinyl records. For the lovely sense of nostalgia and entertainment in seeing your favorite movies in such a washed out, grainy state. It’s vintage so it’s cool. Therefore a podcast about vintage stuff is exceptionally cool.
Being a VHS collector myself I was excited when I learned about Video Palace, especially since it’s Shudder’s very first original scripted podcast. Honestly they couldn’t have chosen a better program to kick off with. Video Palace is a true gem that I think everyone should give a listen to. It’s Nancy Drew-like vibe reminds me of one of those after school specials you would rush home to watch. I love it how it’s not jam packed with horror at every turn, it’s subtle and delivered so lyrically that when something creepy does happen it makes more of an impact. These spooky occurrences usually happen towards the end of the episode making for the perfect cliffhanger. This results in me feeling like that one Zuko meme (you know the one). A perfect way to describe it is if the Goonies and the X Files had a love child. I simply cannot get enough. I’m gonna need a series, a movie and a white tape to hang up somewhere in my home as decor.
My favorite part of the entire experience has to be the character Mark. His unwavering and almost childlike curiosity slowly peels back the layers of this mystery which leaves the listener entirely engaged throughout the episodes. And I can’t deny how much I love the eerie, found footage feel Mark’s narrating gives. It’s simply stellar storytelling.
With every episode oozing with nostalgia it’s perfect for anyone mildly interested in the strange, the occult and conspiracy mysteries. All that being said an audio drama is only as good as its cast and creators. In that department Video Palace has quite the impressive line up. Created by Blair Witch Project producer Michael Morello and Nick Braccia, written by Ben Rock and Bob DeRosa (20 Seconds to Live), Video Palace is home to stars such as Chase Williamson (John Dies at the End) and Devin Sidell (31) along with Bonita Freidericy (Preacher), Larry Cedar (Twilight Zone: The Movie), Leon Russom (A Quiet Place) and Justin Welborn (Beyond the Gates).
Video Palace is available for free wherever you get your favorite podcasts. If you’d like to binge all 10 episodes right now head over to Shudder.com for a 7 day free trial. I promise you won’t regret it.